Festival 2019

CPF-logo-idea-1cFrosted Fire Press is the publishing arm of the Poetry Festival which has taken place every spring since 2011 in the lovely cultural resort of Cheltenham. As Festival Founding Director Anna Saunders plans the 2020 festival, she looks back with pleasure on another artistically successful and well attended festival recently completed. . .

The Ninth Cheltenham Poetry Festival, April 25 – May 4, 2019

brochureThank you to everyone who made our Festival such an explosive, exciting and inspiring festival this year — poets and performers, sponsors, venues and their staff, volunteers and technicians, and of course our wonderful, supportive, and (thankfully) large audiences.

Over 10 days we offered an absolute feast of poetry, prose, music, spoken word, comedy and even steam punk hip hop! Click to see the Festival programme.

In venues ranging from the boho Smokey Joe’s to the atmospheric and elegant Playhouse Theatre, we staged ground-breaking and provocative performances from uncompromising artists such as Jamie Thrasivoulou, Nafeesa Hamid, poet and rapper Casey Bailey, multi-prize winning poet Kim Moore,  Richard Skinner, Pete Raynard, Duncan Forbes, Anne Drysdale, Bobby Parker, Charley Barnes, Paul Deaton, David Clarke, Ziggy Dicks, Jennie Farley, Angela France,  John Porter, Graham  Clifford, Ross Cogan, Neil Richards, Brenda Read Brown, Rowan McCabe (the world’s first Door-to-Door Poet) and the lovely bonkers and hilarious Professor Elemental (with comedian Joy Amy Wigman and JPDL). Our phenomenal spoken word line up included rising stars Abdul-Ahad Patel, Charlie Chitty, Joe Cooke, Jack Crowe, Saili Katebe, and Shaun Hill.

FTS Playhouse web alt 2
Cemeteries and parks are a good place to get close to otherwise shy animals due to the constant interaction with people

We celebrated the power of poetry to raise awareness and facilitate change by featuring the work of protest poets and activists such as James Kearns. Acclaimed poets spoke out against the cruelty of blood sports in the launch of For the Silent – an new anthology from Indigo Dreams in aid of the League against Cruel Sports. (The event featured poets Alison Brackenbury, Angela France, Carole Bromley, Matt Duggan, and Sharon Larkin.)

Our exciting music programme featured a sparkling electro performance from Cheltenham-based dance act Charlie Baxter with 1990’s Chris. Rapper Scott James and BBC Introducing featured singer/songwriter Dan Hartland delivered powerful sets to a packed-out venue. We also welcomed blues musician and Blood Brothers star Davey Edge to pair up with Chris Hemingway to offer some poetic songwriting and lyrical songs.

We guffawed in the aisles at our comedy acts who included Ben Davies, Richard James and Nick Mazonowicz and whooped and cheered for the winners of our smoking hot slam hosted by the incredible Tina Sederholm and Neil Spokes. (Huge congratulations to winner Clare Bold.)

We will be blogging about all our events here, over the next few weeks and sharing photos. So please watch this space!

Anna Saunders. Festival Founding Director                                 18 May 2019

RM Francis read to a full room at this year’s festival and dazzled his audience with erudite and inventive poems which referenced Freud, Lacan, Fungi sex and the dark places of the soul.

Abdul-Ahad Patel sqAbdul Ahad Patel is an actor and an exciting new voice on the spoken word scene. He performed powerful, politically conscious poetry at the Festival this year.
We were so impressed we have already invited him back for next year.


Nafeesa Hamid
is a British Pakistani poet and playwright based in Birmingham. Her work covers taboo themes such as sex, domestic violence and mental health, using personal experience as a basis for her writing.
Nafeesa performed from her electrifying, raw, naked and intense confessional collection- Besharam. The collection addresses spirituality (‘God’s name is tar on my tongue this morning’), guilt (‘You want to prey away last nights sins/ but the boy is still sleeping’) and domestic violent (‘Perhaps he was more man than fist’) in glorious, richly lyrical poems.

We were delighted to welcome a rising star of the poetry scene to Cheltenham Poetry Festival this year — and Saili Katebe offered a breath taking performance of dazzling poetry.  This is a poet with a Shakespearean grandeur in his writing and delivery. Sample lines –

‘Lunacy is law and lends light to the dark’

‘My activism is an acrid molasses too glass-slippered to run away’.

 ‘In the new world old music catches us as we wade into the water’.

We were guffawing in the aisles for our Comedy Night Gagging Order which stared Ben Davies – ‘people call me a shark and deadly/ if you punch me on the nose I will go away’Richard James (‘I read in the paper‘ man seen snorting cocaine off library book and I thought, good lord has Plymouth got a library?’) and the hilarious Nick Mazonowicz ‘A hilarious mix of buffoonery and angry ranting, both intelligent and silly, an absolute delight!’ (Joy-Amy Wigman — Lemon Rocket Comedy).